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Things to Consider when Interviewing Property Management Companies

by Joshua Dorkin on October 7, 2005 · 85 comments

  

find a good property managerPicking a great property manager for your rental properties is one of the most important tasks you’ll undertake, once you’ve actually found a good rental. In searching for a manager, you’ll want to do a thorough interview, and in doing so, you should be able to figure out if they are worth working with. Here are some questions you’ll want to keep in mind when interviewing managers.

Questions to Consider When Interviewing Property Managers

1 – Cost: Managers generally charge a monthly fee to watch and maintain your property. Those fees can range from as low as 5% or so, to upwards of 20%. Obviously, you should look for a company that charges less and provides more services.

2 – Communication: For me, communication with a manager is of the utmost importance. I need someone who uses email, and is responsive to both the telephone and email. If I don’t get a response back in a timely manner, it is time to walk. In addition, you need someone who can deal with you and your idiosyncrasies. Some of us are needier then others. You want to let companies know up front where you stand, and make sure they’re willing to be flexible for you.

3 – Termination of your Agreement: In the event that your “relationship” does not work out, you want to know up front what exactly it will take to terminate your agreement. Is there a charge for breaking your contract? Penalties?

4 – Repairs and Maintenance: Does the company have their own maintenance crew, or do they contract out to a handyman? How much do they bill out at? Can they handle all kinds of repairs? What happens if they can’t do something? Do they have other contractors that they work with?

In addition, you probably want to have a maximum that the company can spend without contacting you. Generally, I will allow my managers to do what they need to as long as it is for something under $100. I must confirm any expenses over that.

If you are a bit more of a control person, you can also request invoices/reciepts for expenses.

5 – Monthly Statements: Does the company send out monthly or quarterly statements. I wouldn’t deal with anyone that does not provide monthly income/expense statements.

6 – Evictions: How does the company handle evictions? What are the costs to evict?

7 – Yard Work: How much do they bill yard work out at? Landscaping? Do they handle snow removal? Mow lawns? How much does each cost?

8 – Reserves: What kind of reserve does the company require? The reserves are used in case anything comes up. Most managers will require a certain amount.

9 – Accounting: When will the manager mail your check to you? Beginning of the month? State laws usually dictate accounting rules for managers, but you wo want to know all of this up front. Tenant Deposits: How do they handle deposits? Are they comingled, or simply put together with all other income for your account?

10 – Vacancies: I’ve actually interviewed companies that will charge you 1/2 a month’s rent to fill vacancies in your property. I quickly ended my interview with these people. There is no reason to pay this fee, since many managers don’t need to charge it. You will need to fill your vacancies, so you will need some advertising done . . .

11 – Advertising: Where do they advertise properties? Are for rent signs put on the property’s lawn? Do they advertise in the paper? Online? There are quite a few effective places to advertise properties for free, online. Do they use these? In addition, you want your property advertised effectively. Do they have the basic HTML skills to add images to their for rent ads online? This makes a huge difference, trust me.

12 – Section 8: Do they have experience dealing with section 8 properties / tenants? Do they know what is entailed with such properties?

I also like to know how many properties they manage, how many managers work at the company, what specific areas they focus on, how long they have been in the business, and other questions about their experience. This should be a good start to get you going.

Got Questions About Managers or Other Landlord Issues?

If there is anything else you want to know about finding a property manager, visit our Residential Property Management & Landlording Issues Discussion Thread at BiggerPockets.com.

Do you have any feedback on how to find a good property manager? Please share it below….

Photo Credit: Ed Kohler

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{ 80 comments… read them below or add one }

Miku Araman October 7, 2005 at 10:55 pm

You said: “Vacancies: I’ve actually interviewed companies that will charge you 1/2 a month’s rent to fill vacancies in your property. I quickly ended my interview with these people. There is no reason to pay this fee, since many managers don’t go there. You will need to fill vacancies, so you need some advertising.”

I’m not sure I understand you. “many managers won’t go there”. Won’t go where? I want my managers to do all the advertising, interviewing, etc, so I am willing to pay them to do this. Can you explain a little more?

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Administrator October 7, 2005 at 11:05 pm

Whoops. Most managers won’t charge this fee. You can get a quality manager who handles all aspects of your property management without getting you for the 1/2 month rent fee. I was a bit vague there, sorry.

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Steve December 11, 2005 at 7:06 pm

It’s a mistake to think that just because a Property Manager chares a leasing fee, that your cost of using that Property Manager will be more than using one who charges no leasing fee.

It costs time and money to get a property rented. A successful Property Manager cannot simply perform this function for free. Companies that do not charge a leasing fee have it built into the management fee, so you are paying the leasing fee every year whether your property turns over or not, via a higher management fee.

In the 14 years I managed property for a fee, my company always separated the management fee from the leasing fee. Why should an owner who is lucky enough to have a tenant stay for 5 years or more be paying a leasing commission that is built into an “all inclusive” management fee?

Also, in some parts of the country, where the rental market is still very soft (like Austin TX), only a fool for a Property Manager would undertake the task of leasing a home without compensation.

So, I disagree with the idea that you should end your interview with a Property Manager who wants to charge you a separate management and leasing fee. Generally, you’ll get a lower management fee from that Property Manager and pay for the leasing only when it is needed.

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Chasten December 27, 2005 at 4:49 pm

Being a property management professional, I agree with the original post with regards to a leasing versus management fee.

The incentive built into a percentage of gross income far outweighs the incentive of leasing fees. Because proper leasing involves finding qualified residents who stay for an extended period of time, the incentive should be tied to every single month that the resident pays rent.

I wouldn’t pay leasing fees because I have no guarantee that a qualified tenant is found. However, if I pay an all-encompassing management fee, the management company is behooved to not only find a resident, but to actually find a qualified resident.

In addition, I feel that the property manager is an asset to a property, one of the largest assets and with all assets, the value of that asset is tied to the income of the property. Therefore, a proper investment into a management company should reflect the value you see or want to add to your property. Finding a discount management company who adds other fees beyond asset management is looked down upon.

I also agree with the advertising portion of the blog. The marketing sophistication of the property manager should be very important. Proper marketing, branding and advertising can make or break a property. With the right investment in a property manager, you can increase the value of your property while decreasing advertising costs. Take for instance craigslist.org: although it is not available in any tertiary markets and very few secondary markets, it is revolutionizing the advertising industry. One property management company in Seattle was able to reduce their advertising costs from $1500 per resident to $50 per resident just with a revamped advertising campaign.

What can your property management company do for you? Are they a value add company or a value eat company?

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Bob June 1, 2006 at 7:40 am

In February 2005 I hired a Property Management Company called TLE Management to find tenants for my apartment building and several single family houses in the Dayton, Ohio rental market. I selected them on the recommendation of another Real Estate Investor who had used the company for about a year and claimed the the owner, Tammy Evans was an excellent manager (I later discovered he was a personal friend of her’s and even rented a house to her). Tammy claimed to be a Certified Property Manager (CPM) who had extensive experience with Rental Property Management. I was concerned with the fee schedule because I knew that several of the management companies in the area charged 50% to 100% of the first month’s rent to place a tenant and 10% per month to manage the properties thereafter. TLE Management charged me 10% of the security deposit and 10% of one month’s rent to place tenants and then 10% per month to manage. I though this was very reasonable since I was assured that TLE did background checks and I thought also credit checks on the prospective tenants. Nine months, seven tenants, and three evictions later I fired TLE Management. The few hundred dollars I had saved on the placement fee cost me several thousand dollars in lost income, damages, and Attorney’s fees. I also discovered that TLE Management had not been doing the background checks that they claimed they would do per the contract.

WARNING:
1. Never hire a Property Management firm that is not owned by a licensed Real Estate Broker (the law in Ohio).
2. Require that you receive copies of all rental applications and background checks prior to approving leases.
3. Remember that you get what you pay for. A few dollars saved on the front end can cost you thousands of dollars on the back end.
4. If your tenants contact you because they are having maintenance issues that are not being addressed by the management company, verify that the company is responding to the requests. If not, fire them.

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Bob June 12, 2006 at 12:55 pm

Update on TLE Management in Dayton, Ohio. TLE Management was assessed a civil penalty of $80,000 by the Ohio Department of Commerce – Division of Real Estate for offering property management services without a Real Estate Broker’s or Salesperson’s License. The owner was also assessed a civil penalty of $80,000 for the same offense.

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Gray August 6, 2006 at 12:47 am

I would check other properties they manage. I often find properties that were under a management company in a state of disrepair when the owner finally decides to sell. They might have saved a few hundred a year going with a cheaper management company but after a few years the property is worth 50k less than what it should have been. I once saw an apartment complex owned by an out of town investor. A support beam under a second story concrete walkway had rotted. If the management company had paid attention it would have noticed what at the time would have been a $50 to $100 dollar fix. Instead the support rotted and the second store walkway started to give. There were estimates to fix it but they were quite expensive. Alot of times management companies seem to only respond to tenant complaints. Alot of problems with a property just get worse and worse and more expensive to eventually fix. When I look for a management company I look for one that will notify me of preventative repairs instead of waiting to call until a tenant notices the property has flooded due to a poor roof or a water heater that busted but should have been replaced 2 years earlier. If that management company is more expensive I have no problems paying more to protect my investment and lead to an overall lower maintenance cost.

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Dee November 9, 2006 at 1:05 pm

Has anyone had good experience with TLE on the contracting/rehab side of their business?

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Jose November 27, 2006 at 12:01 pm

I live in California and I own a property in Middletown, OH. It’s a 3 unit complex. Do you have a good Property Management company that you can recommend me?

Thanks!!

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A&P Property Management LLC November 27, 2006 at 2:06 pm

Dear Jose,

I would like to offer my service to you for properties in Middletown, Ohio.
Please email or call at 513-766-0878 for more information. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thank You,
A&P Property Partners LLC
Pam

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George Jelaco November 30, 2006 at 10:18 am

I own 2 single family residences in Port St. Lucie, FL and live in California. Do you have any GOOD referrals for property management?
Thanks and God Bless!!

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Robert February 26, 2007 at 6:38 am
cathy lape March 22, 2007 at 12:02 pm

I am a condominium owner in one of the associations recently robbed of our monthly maintenance fee payments, by the management company,
MultiVest. As owners, we are being told we will have to pay double and triple our “regular” fee amounts to recoup funds as a result of this theft.
Are Property Management companies not insured? Can this individual who happened to be “in charge” really steal 3.4 million dollars and not be responsible? Can the state of Ohio really place a lien on my condominium if I do not pay these increased fee amounts and “one time” (several times) fees of arbitrary amounts, explained by stating – due to embezzlement. I feel like I have absolutely no rights as the victim of MultiVest.

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Joshua Dorkin March 22, 2007 at 2:03 pm

Cathy – I have to tell you that one of the scariest periods I had as a landlord was when I lived in a condo. As condo’s are special kinds of corporations, they present many problems. There is no government body that oversees condo boards. The board at my previous condo did a lot of things that made me nervous – I sold instead of putting up these potential problems (no insurance, illegal employee firings, etc.) Many condo boards are run by people who have no other lives and are on huge power trips . . .

It sounds to me like you need to consult an attorney. I wish I had better advice, but condos become really complicated, and it sounds like you’re in a real jam.

Good luck and keep us posted of what you find out!

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Sandy April 11, 2007 at 5:41 pm

I’m looking for recommendations for property management companies in Hillsboro, Oregon to manage a single-family house. Any suggestions?

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Kathy April 28, 2007 at 4:29 am

I am looking for a good property manager in the area of the northern Detroit suburbs. Does anyone have any info or recommendations? Also what are the typical charges in Michigan? Anything else I should know?

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cristy May 7, 2007 at 1:45 pm

HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have a property management company that I have had a contract with for about 2 yrs. now. Our initial contact person/agent has now left the company and now our property has now fallen in the hands of the company owner and now my NEW agent. This agent is very hard to get a hold of, hardly ever returns my calls, and past on the responsibility of fixing a problem in our property to the tenant. Does anyone know how I can end the contract without her throwing legal stuff at me? The tenant was place in the house by this company.

Any suggestions is appreciated

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Robbin May 26, 2007 at 11:13 am

I was Working for T.L.E Management I can tell you that short time I worked and was the owners friend that things weren’t ran right . She does not handle most steps in the office she leaves up to her feild workers cause she is to busy with other things. Also her Boyfriend owner of TPI is the one to watch for I have a house on land trust with him and the owner of tle moved in the House. He has hardly made payments on time I have more trouble then its worth. I would seek another Property management company. I know more then I want to and have more I could say but I rather that Ohio Realty Com. fine them . She was told to shut down by the Realty Com. So please be careful

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Clifford July 2, 2007 at 6:57 pm

I own 1 single family residences in Milpitas, California. Do you have any GOOD referrals for property management?
Thanks and God Bless!!

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Karen McDaniel August 5, 2007 at 7:36 am

Too much time is consumed trying to find a good PM, so I’ve taken matters into my own hands. I’ve created a website that ask the most common questions before hiring them. And I always want to know where they are located in relationship to my rental property. And most importantly what other clients of their are saying about them. Send me your comments

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John August 28, 2007 at 1:12 pm

This is a great post. I have found that even good companies have crappy people that work there so get names and get references. If your manager within the same company changes, treat it like you’re starting all over with the company.

I’m in the Atlanta area (Decatur, GA), does anyone know of a good property management company that would be effective at handling my condo rental?

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Carol September 16, 2007 at 11:18 am

I have used the same managment firm for many years. The firm were recommended by a managemnet company that was too big for my little real estate holdings. We pay 5% of the total monthly income and 3% of the total lease value. The property is rarely vacant. I pay for all the advertisitng. Recently, we have had a store that has been for lease for several months. The manager is asking to increase to 6% so she can put be part of a bigger group that markets property. This does not make sense to me. Can anyone explain the rational of increasing the %. It sounds like a ploy. What are your takes on this?

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ana October 7, 2007 at 12:38 pm

Can anyone recommend a good PMC in Vallejo, CA? I have been dealing with Krystle Properties and am very disappointed to say the least. It has been almost 4 months since I have signed up with them and they still haven’t placed a tenant.

By the way, they charge 50% of the rent to place a tenant and 10% of rent for monthly maintenance fees. Is that the norm in Northern Cal?

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Ted Maxson October 22, 2007 at 2:21 pm

Thanks for the input on the management company TLE in Dayton Ohio. I was going to call them TODAY and have them manage my PERSONAL House that has not sold. I am out of the area now thus can not do it myself. Thanks so much for your input. Ted Maxson

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keith January 19, 2008 at 7:41 am

Great site and good discussion keep up the good work

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Jeanette March 19, 2008 at 4:59 pm

I hired Progressive Property Management to manage a single-family property in Atlanta, and the company hasn’t made rental income deposits in my account since January. The manager gives excuse after excuse, and I am terminating the contract. Two questions – is it customary not to be given contact info for the tenants, which happened to me and makes the situation more difficult and does anyone have recommendations for property managers in Atlanta?
Thanks.

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Joshua Dorkin March 19, 2008 at 5:07 pm

Jeanette – Have your tenants paid rent since January? His duty is to give you the contact info for ALL tenants, as well as all contracts and paperwork. I’d get in touch with your local real estate authority to discuss the matter and get legal advice on the situation.

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Jeanette March 26, 2008 at 5:14 pm

Joshua:

Thanks for your post. The tenants, who contacted me directly for the first time this week b/c of a maintenance issue, said they’ve paid on time. But they haven’t sent proof – bank statement, cancelled checks – as I requested. I’ve filed complaints with the local BBB and Real Estate Commission. Found out that I can have them evicted if they don’t come up with proof. Any other advice is welcomed.

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Sandy April 2, 2008 at 2:06 pm

I’m having a very bad time now with the property management company. I felt we were unfairly treated. And I don’t even know if I just should let it loose , let them do what they want or continue my fight with them until the last…. I’m really confused and unhappy. And I wonder if you have a better idea or suggestion as a outsider.

The issue arising between our family and management company is borthering me a lot. My husband and me bought a onebedroom plus Den unit in a condo building. My mom come to live with us now. I tried to apply the underground gym memebership for her thru our condo. And the condo on-site manager made it very diffucult for us. For 2 weekes, We’re already visited on-site office 4 times and we still can not get a gym membership application form. And each time, they give us an addtional requirments. Last, When we fulfilled her requirements, she request to let security staff to check our room in order to comfirm that we have a 1+1 unit. It’s just unacceptable.

I felt this is an unreasonable request just for obtain an gym membership application form. So, I talked to this property management company’s region manager who is on-site manager’s boss, and she gave me the answer is very unacceptable to me. She said our on-site manager is trying her best to help us. I asked her that they should have document to show our unit type since they’re management company , and they collect our condo fee by unit type. But she said they’re not builder so they’re not sure. To check our room is the only way to comfirm our unit type allowing 3 ppl living there.

I asked her to see the doc. states our unit type. She said she can not show it to me, I need to write a letter to board of directors to request. And she wouldn’t give me their contact info. she told me to give the letter to management office and even though the board of directors probably won’t take my request in concern.

I just feel so powerless as a normal resident here. So, I’m trying to deciding just let them come to check or fight with them by complain to a higher level? We are very unsatisfied with the answer and service by our managment company. And this already efficted our work and life negativly. We felt we’re played by management company, and we felt very upset, but don’t know how to solve it in a better way!

If you have your thought or suggestion in either way, pls drop me a note to my email -”[email protected]” Thank you very much for your concern and support.

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Andy May 9, 2008 at 4:56 pm
Minh Tran May 10, 2008 at 9:44 am

I have a single family home in Houston, Tx 77084 and needs a good management company. Could someone steer or help me finding one? Thanks..
My current prorperty management (http://www.har.com/AWS/AWS.CFM?AGENT_NUMBER=406788) is absolutely terrible and I am not sure what to do at this point. Could someone give me some advice regardings this issue? Thanks

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Alfredo June 10, 2008 at 6:50 pm

I have a property management company that is in eviction proceedings with my tenant. The lease is between the property management company and the tenant. I believe the PM company is ripping me off and I want to terminate the contract. How would this affect the eviction proceedings? Can I continue where the PM company left off or would I have to start over? I live in Michigan. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Tracey June 21, 2008 at 3:05 pm

Thanks, Joshua, for an informative article. Many of the things you raised I would have taken for granted, so I really appreciate your taking the time to highlight those things we should investigate.

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Lissette July 11, 2008 at 11:50 pm

For anyone looking for a property management company… I did most of my research using the Better Business Bureau (bbb.org). This is my first time renting property. The contract I looked over stated, “1/2 months rent if rented within 30 days, or $350 after 30 days, annually per vacant unit with management.” Does this sound fair? Thanks and great post!

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Simon August 21, 2008 at 1:53 pm

Thanks Joshua, these are great tips. I’d also suggest making sure you get everything in writing!

Thanks,
Simon

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John August 26, 2008 at 3:27 pm

I am starting a Propertry Management company in Connecticut. I have been in property management for 25 years. Does anyone have anyu suggestions on how to go about securing contracts?

My experience is in both residential, including Section 8, and comercial properties.

Thanks

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Tony Sena October 29, 2008 at 12:13 pm

These are questions that anyone interviewing a property manager should ask!

John,

To secure contacts, contact local agents and offer them a referral fee for referring their clients that are need of property management. Also use the Internet to create business. If you can rank for key words in your market, you will definitely generate business!

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Timothy November 18, 2008 at 2:49 pm

Very informative.

Before you meet your prospective property management firms, it’s always wise to write down all of your questions beforehand, so you don’t forget to ask them all of your questions when you meet with all the various firms in person.

Also, remember that property management firms are not your only choice. Many individuals today are choosing online property management software programs. These programs function just like these firms, are easy to use and can save you substantial costs.

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Flüge December 3, 2008 at 9:31 am

Hey folks
Iam a property management Study, and my belief is: If you want to build something, ore you want to put your money aside. Your estates running high?! Than call a property manager:) It would be always the right choice my friends.
Greets, Flüge

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Gummistiefel May 28, 2009 at 7:16 pm

With the right investment in a property manager, you can increase the value of your property while decreasing advertising costs. Take for instance craigslist.org: although it is not available in any tertiary markets and very few secondary markets, it is revolutionizing the advertising industry…

Gummistiefel’s last blog post: Neue Produkte:

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David Cruz July 1, 2009 at 2:20 pm

Was looking to have some property managed in the San Antonio Area. I have single and multi fam and would like to out source it to someone else. Could somebody recommended someone to me….Thanks

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Ryan Jones July 3, 2009 at 1:29 pm

Those are twelve great questions to ask a property management company..my number question would be “How will you increase my NOI by using you?” :)

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Neil July 13, 2009 at 11:40 pm

You also need to look at the properties that the management company has rented in the past, every rental management company has a portfolio of properties under their belt. How many properties do they manage? Can they give you a detailed list of those properties, to prove past rentals.

Look at the bigger pictures and gain piece of mind through studying your chosen companies recent successes.

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Sharon August 16, 2009 at 8:11 pm

I have a rental property in Massillon, Ohio and am currently looking for a Property Manager. Do you know of any?

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Edward Bridges August 23, 2009 at 2:18 pm

What is the law regarding the return of a security deposit by a property manager to a property owner after the cancellation of a
property management contract. What are the legal steps to get this deposit back when the property manager ignores your request?

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Joshua Dorkin August 23, 2009 at 3:12 pm

If it is not explicitly written in your agreement with them, one would assume that the funds would be turned over along with keys and all leases and documents after termination. You probably need to talk with your attorney on this one ASAP.

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Dwayne Fields August 25, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Hello,I know for sure that no business is safe without haveing safe,trusted maintenance personel that you’re working with.I stated a mintenance/clean-up/janitorial business in the 80′s.Unforunately i tried of being asked to equipt client’s for others which was a second income in desquise and I did’nt realize it!I plan to return to this occupation if any one is in need of a geat handyman for one or two propertie’s please,please!Don’t be shy !

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Val Walker August 26, 2009 at 12:42 pm

I am planning to list my vacant home with CSA REAL PROPERTIES and MANAGEMENT,LLC in Atlanta, GA. Does anyone have anything to say about this company?

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Cliff January 20, 2013 at 6:27 am

We have a house in Coweta county that we would like to lease. Who did you end up using and what was the experience like?

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Christina September 25, 2009 at 9:09 am

Does anyone have a list of “need to know” items when taking over a property from another management company? Like, how old is the property? How much are the rental rates? etc. etc.

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Carmela September 26, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Thank you for the post — I have to fire my property management company of 12 years and hire a new one. I live in WAshington state and my property is in California. I’ve got a lead on a company that I will interview when I am down there this week – the other company that was recommended to me I used years ago and fired them, so I hope this new company works out. Anyone heard of Cornerstone Property Management in La Verne, CA? There is nothing on Better Business Bureau.

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Jordan Muela October 7, 2009 at 6:26 pm

Wow, I am amazed at how popular this post has been and that it is still getting comments.

Joshua makes some great points here. The comment on contract termination is spot on as you always want to ensure that you are going to have an escape plan if things don’t work out.

There really are alot of factors to consider, but given what your asking them to take care of, its definitely worth doing your due diligence upfront.

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mona January 12, 2010 at 2:48 pm

i am in a terrible situation with a property manager in s.c.. they are supposed to consult with me before spending more than $250, but don’t and bill me (take it from the rent) for things that i would not have agreed to. and this month they sent me ‘maintenence’ bils for things that would have been covered under my home warrenty. i have found out that the owner of the company uses her husband as the maintenence guy, which seems like a conflict of interest to me. i can’t get her to return my calls and am at my wits end here.
my contract says 60 days notice for cancelling, and its in july so thats what i’m going to do but i’m just so frustrated and don’t know what to do.
i think i’ll start with the bbb and see if they can help.
help!

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Joshua Dorkin January 12, 2010 at 6:02 pm

I’d talk to an attorney, Mona.

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mona March 2, 2010 at 3:17 pm

i called the bar association in s.c. and got a name of an attorney and had a phone consult. he said the p.manager knows that i won’t fight apprx $800 from out of state becuase it would cost more than that to do it. i am stuck. she is keeping my rent proceeds for anything and everything. even the home warranty policy that our contract says she will use she is saying that she doesn’t really have to use them.
i gave 60 days notice and am holding my breath that her and her husband don’t run up more ‘maintence charges in this time frame.
if anyone knows someone that can be trusted as a p. manager in columbia s.c. please please pass the name on to me.

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Mike March 2, 2010 at 10:57 am

Hello, I just discovered that the property management in my Plaza(i’m the tenant) has been billing me for their services.I believed for many years this was happening though i could’nt prove it.I was told that this is the owners responsibility since he works for him.Paying for this company is like going to war with another country and i buy their bombs.My question is can this be legal?

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Terry April 26, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Im a professonal handyman in Phoenix Arizona, I tell home owners to use me instead of using the management services. I work directly with you and you are not in the dark. I can do the work the right way the patch it up way, i work with your budget and I tell you up front.
You are allowed to use your own handyman. And yes that is a conflict for using your husband
you need to fire that property management company
Terry

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David Lowrey June 27, 2010 at 10:14 am

You should contact your local Realtor association. They can give you the state agency that oversees real estate agent’s licenses. You can get her license revoked for this type of behavior which effectively puts her out of business. I live in Florida and the Florida Real Estate Commission handles these types of complaints.

I see this thing happen all the time to my clients before they use our service. Most property managers are dishonest and have very low integrity.

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Roch September 25, 2010 at 10:00 am

Communication is definitely key specially when your properties are located far from where you live. Theres nothing worst than not knowing how your investment is doing.

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Mark Wallstead December 19, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Perfect Post! Thanks Joshua. People need to read this. It will prove very helpful for me and my friends.

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roger September 1, 2011 at 4:33 am

I just want a property manager inDayton, whom you can talk directly to, deposits monthly funds to your account promptly, who tells you when there are major repairs to be done rather than just send you a bill without contractor receipts, Someone who does NOT charge $55 an hour for paint touchups etc.
Regards Roger

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Joshua Dorkin September 1, 2011 at 7:03 am

Roger – You’ve got to just get out there and interview, interview, interview. Ask for recommendations here on BiggerPockets (on our forums) and at your local real estate club or landlord association. It isn’t easy, but if you put in the work, you’ll find the diamond in the rough in your area. Good luck!

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anthony March 30, 2012 at 1:40 am

Hello Roger,

I am from out of town and have properties in Dayton Ohio, when you find the good property manager let me know, as I am at the end of a piece of rope in regard to a Dayton P.M.
I have great managers in other ciries but Dayton is so far very ordinary and not looking good.
I will be in Dayton August 2012 and a chat with other Landlords could be a thought, solve the problems with the thoughts of more than one person.

Regards Anthony

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Shanell May 21, 2012 at 11:14 am

Hi Anthony,

Would you mind passing on the PM names that you’ve had trouble with. I’m about to start looking for a PM for a condo my boyfriend owns. He now lives in FL and I’m moving pretty soon. We just want someone we can trust to help us manage our place.

You can email me directly if you don’t want to list them on the site. I’m trying to find someone before I move in August.

Shanell.
[email protected]

Erin January 11, 2012 at 12:18 am

Help! I think I need a new PM in DFW area. I have two nice houses, brand new 5 yrs ago. One has had back to back skip tenants. The last one cost me 5K and this new one stands to cost about 9K. (They roughly break even when 100% occupied). My partner wants to sell, but I think it’s not a good time to sell, they were bought for a long hold. I don’t think this is the time to bail in DFW.

My PM charges 8% and leasing fees and is a rather large outfit. I’ve had them since I bought both houses. They have not really been paying attention I think. I should have been paying better attention but I got laid off and went back to school figuring I had professionals on the job. I am paying attention now! What a nightmare.

Any good PMs in DFW?

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Joe March 26, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Very good…awesome questions that most should ask of a property manager. We are going to keep a list like this to remind us what the services that we offer and often forget to convey to prospective clients when pitching our company. Thanks

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Slater May 10, 2012 at 8:42 am

Do you know if most property management services will answer all of these questions? I suppose that might be the key to finding the right management option. If they are upfront with you about things and don’t side-step the questions then it is probably a good place to work with.

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Joshua Dorkin May 10, 2012 at 11:22 am

If they don’t answer your questions, then you should definitely keep looking.

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Matthew Nelson August 17, 2012 at 3:26 pm

I am looking for a recommendation for a property management company in Phoenix Arizona. There are quite a few to choose from and just wanted to see if anyone has had success with a particular company that does a better job. Thnaks in advance.

Mat

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Wolfe September 15, 2012 at 6:24 am

I have run into a problem with my Property Management company is Seattle, WA. Communications is so poor that the house has been placed at risk during the transition from one tenant to another. Gates were unlocked at the unoccupied house, the in-ground swimming poll was left unprotected from neighbor kids, windows in the house were left open and unlocked (to name a few issues). Additionally, we can not get a consistent or complete answer to any questions including what happened to the damage deposit monies from the last tenant. The house sustained damage from an unauthorized cat, as well as cat doors installed on interior house doors. We do not believe home inspections took place per contract or this damage would have been easily discovered, prior to tenant leaving.

The risks and difficulties were escalated to the owner of the Property Management firm to be sure they were aware, as well as to help resolve this. Instead, communications have gotten worse with the agent, which leads us to believe it is part of this businesses culture, vs a standalone employee issue.

We do not know what we can do and feel held hostage to our contract with this Property Management company.

Any advice on options we can pursue?

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Ja Miller November 10, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Hey Josh, if you still monitor this please explain not paying lease fees. I have 5 rental properties fully rented and 2 vacant. My pm charges 6% (+++) to manage and 1 months rent to procure. I’m thinking about placing my 2 vacants with another company that charges 9% with no leasing fee. Also, what about ad fees and referral paid to other brokers? The 9% pm says that they show every prospect but my friend uses them and says no (but they do a good job and have filled his vacancy). My current pm does show each prospect…good since I know many tenant prospects don’t show up but overcoming objections helps.

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Natasha November 28, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Fantastic article, very insightful i live in England Birmingham and i will be using some of these tips in managing properties.

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Neil Uttamsingh December 18, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Hi Josh,

Long time no chat. I hope you are doing well. When I read this article of yours, your second point, “Communication” stuck out in my mind.

In my view, communication, or a lack of communication is one of the biggest problems, if not the biggest problem between landlords and property managers.

When things are going well within a landlord and property manager relationship, neither side is pointing fingers. However, when things do go wrong, the finger pointing begins.

I truly feel that the small time investor needs to manage their own rental properties at first. If the investor lives in close proximity to their rental property, I do not see the reason why they should be sourcing out the management of the property to someone else. I see this happen far too often.

I work with a lot of new real estate investors (on the education side) and see many of them buy a rental property within a 30 minute driving distance, yet hire a property manager as well right off the bat.

Far too often new investors will buy a rental property and think that they can dump all of the management of the property onto someone else.

What new investors don’t realize is that you truly become a good and long term investor through the experience you gain with managing your rental properties. Without this hands on experience, you will never learn what it takes in order to survive long term as an investor.

Having said all of this, in the situations between landlord and property managers that I have seen, where the relationship breaks down, the communication was always the first part to break down.

Consider this…

If you are a new investor, or experienced investor for that matter, think about establishing a “communication plan” with your prospective property manager. Establish how many times a month you will speak and when specifically in the month you will speak.

Also, establish a “customer service plan”, in that get a firm commitment from the property manager, how long they will take to respond to your (emails or phone calls). What is the standard? 24 hours? 12 hours? 2 hours?

Establishing this from the get go will make things a lot smoother for all parties involved.

Here is an article I wrote on How To Manage Rental Property. Take a look..

http://www.firstrentalproperty.com/the-secret-to-managing-rental-properties/

Best Regards,
Neil Uttamsingh

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Elizabeth January 31, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Anyone know of a good property manager in Columbia SC? Or who to avoid?

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Joshua Dorkin January 31, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Elizabeth – You may want to ask for recommendations on our forums at http://www.biggerpockets.com/forums

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Juliet Jones June 23, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Hi all, I need to hire a property manager in Minneapolis, MN to manage a house. My concern is that my cashflow is very tight month-to-month, and I need to either break even or come very close to it, or I’m going to lose the house. I had to move out of the area due to family issues, and I do want to go back someday, but in the meantime have no choice but to rent it (it’s underwater, so I can’t sell it.) I’m afraid of everything involved in this processe – getting scammed or nickled-and-dimed by a property mgmt company on setup expenses and repairs, etc., getting hit with insurmountable repair costs as part of the city licensing inspection process – it’s just a scary situation for me, as I have a very small amount of money to get this processed kicked off… I know it’s hard to answer without more specifics on the house, but what kinds of fees and expenses are generally involved in a first-time rental transition? I know housecleaning and changing locks are a couple. Also, the company I’m talking to charges something like $350 to use their lease, plus I think 75% of the first-month’s rent. I just wish I could have at least a general estimate of what my up-front outlay is going to be before rent starts coming in. I don’t want to jump into something and be liable for expenses that I have no way to cover – my only way out, if things go badly and I’m looking at thousands of dollars in expenses would be bankruptcy. It’s an older house, and as far as I know everything is in working order, but some things are not pretty. Do you guys have any advice, either for a good mgmt company in Mpls, or where I could find more information on these questions? Thanks, all.

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crystal Caldwell November 15, 2013 at 2:04 pm

I am opening a property management company in Florida and I have read through all the comments and they are very helpful now I have a idea of what not to do I just want to thank everyone who left comments they were all helpful.

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jjhomes.co.uk February 17, 2014 at 1:59 am

Hyiii…,
Nice post.Property management involves the processes, systems and manpower required to manage the life cycle of all acquired property as defined above including acquisition.

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Meghan February 23, 2014 at 9:06 am

Hi there almost all, I need to employ real estate boss in Minneapolis, MN to handle a house. My worry can be that will my own cash flow can be quite limited month-to-month, and also I need to both separate possibly or arrive extremely close to the item, or I’m likely to eliminate the home.

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Jan maria Jagush April 22, 2014 at 11:19 pm

I am a property manager in Fairfield/Litchfield counties in Connecticut. The best way to get a home rented here is through the Multiple Listing Service. There is a 1 month fee required for that….and well worth the money. Unlike other states the owner pays that fee. One can not expect the property manager to pick up that cost. Thank you

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